“Resident Evil: Afterlife” Movie Review

     “Resident Evil: Afterlife” breathes some much needed life into the horror/action hybrid after two not so great outings.  I always thought the first film was by far the best of the series, but was not impressed with the two sequels.  After the last one, I felt the series was dead in the water and couldn’t offer a single thought on how they could continue the story.  Of course things change and for this film the sign of the times is simple technology.

     As you may know, in order to create the thrilling visuals of “Avatar”, James Cameron literally co-invented a new 3D camera system which brought 3D films to a whole new level.  You may think such recent titles as “Clash of the Titans” and “The Last Airbender” were filmed using this system as well, but this was not the case.  Those films tried to cash in on the bountiful 3D surcharges to inflate their grosses by doing a post production conversion after the film was shot.  The results of this process are just so so.  In truth, “Resident Evil: Afterlife” is only the second film using this system to actually shoot in 3D and the director is actually composing his shots with 3D in mind.  The result, predictably, is far superior and the 3D effects in Afterlife are mind blowing.  Probably some of the best I’ve seen.

     Milla Jovovich returns as “Alice” and is on her usual trek to undermine and destroy the evil Umbrella Corp..  The film wastes no time showing off the new toy in its bag of tricks as Alice leads a raid on the Tokyo, Japan Umbrella Headquarters.  This sequence is 20 minutes of Alice and her clones shooting, slicing, and dicing the bad guys in astounding 3D glory.  It seems like every gun shot is from the perspective of  the guy standing behind the guy who is being shot, so we can see the bullet come out the back of his head along with the 3D blood splatter.  As the opening sequence concludes, the story moves on as Alice tries to hunt down the origin or a mysterious radio message from a safe haven called Arcadia, which claims to be “infection free.”  While en route, she discovers a band of survivors barricaded in a maximum security prison and surrounded by thousands of flesh eating zombies in Los Angeles.  Together they try to escape and get to Arcadia.

     There are a number of great action sequences throughout the film, as well as several scares.  Director Paul W.S. Anderson has done an admirable job with this being the third sequel in the franchise.  I’ve been quite critical of some of his previous efforts, namely the god awful “Alien vs Predator”, but not here.  I think the allure of working with 3D and the new technologies has really brought out the best picture possible and Anderson uses all of it to its best potential.  If I had a singular complaint, it would be the lack of imagination with the main villain, Albert Wesker.  I mean he really is an Agent Smith rip off isn’t he?  Same suit, same sunglasses, same ability to dodge bullets and do Kung Fu!  I wish they would’ve come up with a better, more original way to present him.

     On the plus side, a sequence with Alice and Claire (Ali Larter) fighting a giant Axeman in a huge shower room was just plain awesome.  3D water gushing everywhere and this giant 10 foot tall zombie wielding a huge axe at our two heroines (and the audience) was one of the best parts of the film. The ending this time comes abruptly with no real resolution which of course means Resident Evil 5 is surely in the works.  If the same talent returns in front of and behind those glorious 3D cameras, then sign my up!  GRADE: B-